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North Korea canceled secret meeting with Pence at Olympics, US says

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Vice President Mike Pence was set to secretly meet with North Korean officials at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, earlier this month, but North Korea canceled at the last minute, the Trump administration said Tuesday.

“North Korea dangled a meeting in hopes of the Vice President softening his message, which would have ceded the world stage for their propaganda during the Olympics,” Nick Ayers, Pence’s Chief of Staff, said.

Pence “was ready to take this opportunity,” according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, and would have used the meeting to emphasize U.S. concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The meeting with Kim Yo Jong, regime leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, and Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s nominal head of state, was supposed to take place on Feb. 10, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the news. But less than two hours before the meeting was slated to begin, the North Koreans backed out.

NORTH KOREA AND KIM JONG UN: MEET THE KNOWN KEY PLAYERS IN THE REGIME

Pence’s office said North Korea “would have strongly preferred” if the vice president didn’t use his trip to the Winter Games as a platform to discuss the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” to dissuade the North from using its nuclear program.

“Perhaps that’s why they walked away from a meeting, or perhaps they were never sincere about sitting down,” Ayers said. “But as we’ve said from day one about the trip: this administration will stand in the way of Kim’s desire to whitewash their murderous regime with nice photo ops at the Olympics.”

North Korea previously said through state-run media that there was “no need” to meet with Pence at the Games.

Pence and the North Korean delegation drew attention at the Games’ Opening Ceremony when he and second lady Karen Pence sat just feet away from Kim Yo Jong and Kim Yong Nam. There appeared to be no interaction between either delegation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nicole Darrah covers breaking and trending news for FoxNews.com.

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EE brings back EU roaming charges for mobile phone customers from next year | Business News

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Mobile network EE is to charge customers for using their phone in Europe from next year.

The company, owned by BT, had previously said it had no plans to reintroduce the charges after Brexit.

It will affect new customers and those upgrading from 7 July.

An EE phone store on Oxford Street, central London. 29/5/2018
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EE said it change would support investment in its UK network

They will face a £2 daily fee from January next year to be able to use their data, call minutes and text allowances in 47 European destinations.

The change will not apply to customers travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

British travellers have not had to pay roaming charges on their mobile phone bills since June 2017, when they were abolished after changes to European regulation.

Before then they added an estimated £350m a year to users’ bills.

Britain’s departure from the European Union meant that from January UK customers no longer had the right to use their phone in Europe without roaming charges.

However, Britain’s major mobile operators had said they had no plans to introduce them.

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December 2020: What’s in the Brexit trade deal?

EE said its decision was designed to “support investment into our UK-based customer service and leading UK network”.

It said customers travelling abroad for longer will be able to use a 30-day Roam Abroad Pass.

Ernest Doku, a mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said: “It’s hugely disappointing for consumers to see that situation change so quickly.

“If you’re an existing EE customer, these charges won’t affect you yet, but make sure you check the small print if you’re due an upgrade in the coming months.”

Sky News contacted other networks to ask if they had any similar plans.

O2 and Three said they had not made any changes to roaming.

However, both are altering their policies on “fair usage” daily data limits while in the EU – though in each case said the limits were more than enough for the vast majority of holidaymakers’ needs.

Vodafone also said it had no plans to bring back roaming charges.

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HMS Defender: Boris Johnson insists warship was sailing legally as Moscow warns ‘no options can be ruled out’ | UK News

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Boris Johnson has insisted Royal Navy warship HMS Defender was sailing legally in Ukrainian waters and that Russia did not any fire warning shots.

Russia has accused the UK of “barefaced lies” over Wednesday’s incident and said it would respond robustly to any future incursions into what it says are Russian waters.

It summoned the British ambassador in Moscow for a dressing down, while a Kremlin spokesman called it a “deliberate and premeditated provocation”.

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Russia claims this is HMS Defender ‘chased out’

“In the event of a repeat of unacceptable provocative action – if those actions go too far, no options can be ruled out in terms of legally defending Russia’s borders,” added Dmitry Peskov.

The UK rejects Russia’s claim that a border patrol boat fired warning shots and that warplanes dropped bombs into path of the ship off the Crimean coast.

Speaking on Thursday, Boris Johnson said it was “not my information” when asked if the Russians had fired warning shots.

“My understanding is that the Carrier Strike Group proceeded in a way you would expect through international waters and in accordance with the law,” said the prime minister.

He added: “We don’t recognise the Russian annexation of Crimea – it was illegal. These are Ukrainian waters and it was entirely right to use them to get from A to B.”

HMS Defender
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HMS Defender’s main wartime function is to destroy enemy planes and drones

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has also said shots were not fired and called the Russian account “predictably inaccurate”.

The Ministry of Defence said it had been made aware in advance that the Russians were conducting “gunnery exercises” in the area.

“No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognise the claim that bombs were dropped in her path,” it said.

Sukhoi Su-24M bombers pictured over Moscow in May 2019
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Russia said Su-24M jets – pictured in May 2019 – dropped bombs in the ship’s path

However, a BBC journalist on board the 152 metre-long ship said Russian planes had flown nearby and he also heard radio warnings that shots would be fired if HMS Defender didn’t change course .

He said firing was later heard but “well out of range”.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Britain of “barefaced lies” over the incident.

Russia claims the British ship had gone as far as three kilometres (2 miles) into Russian waters near Cape Fiolent, near the port of Sevastopol in Crimea.

Crimea was seized from Ukraine in 2014 by the Russians, who claim ownership of waters around its coast.

A map showing the route of HMS Defender
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The route of HMS Defender

Western countries regard Crimea to have been taken illegally.

Mr Johnson also rejected the assertion that the relationship with Russia was now at a new low, following other recent incidents such as the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in the UK in 2018.

“I can remember times in my own lifetime when things have been far worse,” the prime minister said.

Sky’s Moscow correspondent Diana Magnay said the incident was to a large extent about “testing each other’s mettle” and seeing “how far Russia is prepared to go to defend what it claims are its territorial waters – and how far the UK and NATO are prepared to go to defend Ukrainian sovereignty”.

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‘Several injured and one dead’ after building partially collapses in Miami Beach | World News

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A huge emergency operation is under way after a partial building collapse in Miami Beach, with reports of at least one person killed and several injured.

More than 80 fire and rescue units were at the scene of the collapse in the Florida city, with images showing a pile of rubble with debris spilling down from what was left of the balconies of the building.

CBS reported that at least one person had died, while ABC News said eight people were being treated for injuries in hospital.

Sergeant Marian Cruz of the Surfside Police Department said: “We’re on the scene so it’s still very active.

“What I can tell you is the building is 12 floors. The entire back side of the building has collapsed.”

Police have cordoned off nearby roads, with scores of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars deployed in the area.

NBC said the rescue teams included a unit that is trained in the removal of victims trapped in complex or confined spaces.

NBC Miami showed a video of a young boy being pulled alive from the rubble.



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